A clear visitor policy is vital to the security of your employees, clients, and workplace assets. It keeps your workers safe, your equipment secure, and your confidential information confidential. Of course, the nature of your visitor policy will depend on the type and size of your office. Guest procedures at a small law firm are likely to be far different from those at a large manufacturer, for example. But regardless of what business you’re in, there are certain issues you need to address. If you don’t have a visitor policy, now’s the time to create one. And if you do have a visitor policy, it’s always a good idea to revisit and update it periodically. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Clarify authorization procedures
As a start, make sure it’s clear who has the authority to approve office visitors. In some cases, anyone on staff may have the ability to authorize and admit guests. In others, the responsibility may fall on managers or receptionists. The important thing is to clarify who may allow visitors into the workplace.
Restrict office access
Your visitor policy should include information about which areas of the office are open to which types of guests. For instance, conference rooms might be open to all visitors, while back offices might not. Some areas—like sterilized manufacturing facilities or rooms storing confidential information—may be off limits to all non-employees. In general, some level of restricted access beyond the lobby is a common workplace practice.
Keep a record of visitors
Know who’s in your office at all times. A sign-in procedure—often accompanied by proof of identification—can help you keep track of guests. It can also be crucial for knowing who’s in your office in case of an emergency. As we’ve noted before, a digital visitor log is particularly advantageous. It eliminates confidentiality risks and allows easy-to-access records for future reference.
Decide how to identify visitors while they’re in the workplace
Many companies choose to clearly identify workplace visitors while they’re on the premises, often via printed ID badges. This approach is a cost-effective and relatively simple way to promote easy recognition of guests. With a visitor management system, badges can be seamlessly integrated into the check-in process.
Ensure that visitors are escorted while in the office
It’s typically a good idea to make sure your guests aren’t wandering around on their own, for both security and visitor-safety reasons. You might go a step further and set out specific responsibilities for employees escorting a guest. For instance, an escort may be responsible for safely evacuating the guest in case of emergency, as well as making sure the guest complies with company policies.
Address different kinds of visitors
As noted in this Workplace Visitors Sample Policy, different kinds of visitors may require different treatment. In terms of non-employees, do you want to treat friends and family differently from other guests? How about vendors, contractors, or interviewees? You might need to consider different kinds of employees as well, such as temporary workers, former staffers, and employees who are visiting during non-working hours.
Include any policies for recording, wi-fi, and non-disclosure
Protecting intellectual property and other confidential information is a big concern for many businesses. As such, they may have particular restrictions for guests. Your visitor policy should specify details such as appropriate guest use of your wi-fi network and technology, as well as any restrictions on photography and/or recording equipment. If certain guests must sign non-disclosure agreements, that’s another good detail to codify. This Sample Visitor Access Policy includes all three of those points.
Educate your staff
Once you’ve drafted a solid visitor policy, make sure your employees are familiar with it. You don’t want to risk a security breach because someone unwittingly props open a side door or invites someone into a secure area without authorization. Training and education will ensure that all of your staff members know the right procedures, thereby minimizing security risks and helping visitor interactions run smoothly.
Make a plan for enforcement
What should employees do if they see an unescorted guest, or a visitor in a restricted area? How about if they see a fellow employee violating the visitor policy? Having a clear set of guidelines in place can help eliminate confusion and keep your office safe. Your visitor policy may also include an outline of consequences for violation.
Don’t forget to create a welcoming experience for your guests
Yes, security is the main goal of a visitor policy. But don’t forget that you also want visitors to feel welcome when they step into your reception area. While it may not be part of your official visitor policy, all guests should be assisted promptly and efficiently. They should have an immediate opportunity to check in, and should be connected quickly with the appropriate staff member. An automated visitor management system like The Receptionist for iPad streamlines your visitor check-in process, helping to make your guests’ visits both secure and enjoyable. Sign up for your free 14-day trial today.